Lycos unfurls Circles social networking site

Lycos will release a test version of a social networking Web site that, unlike many competing ones, is more focused on letting users communicate with people they already know than on letting users get to know strangers.

Called Circles, the site can be found online at http://circles.lycos.com.

Circles lets users share a variety of things via the site, including text, photos, video and audio clips and greeting cards. The site lets a user define multiple groups of acquaintances, such as a group of co-workers, a group of family members, a group of neighbors and a group of school parents. What the user shares with each group can be established independently of the other groups, or can overlap more than one group. The Circles user controls what he has shared with each group from a single Circles interface.

The people the user shares content with don't have to be Circles members in order to view what is being shared with them. They do have to sign up with Circles if they want to make comments. Signing up for Circles is free.

Other Circles features include the ability to conduct online polls among a user's acquaintances, to share a Web site snapshot annotated by the user and to send an invitation to an event.

Lycos plans to improve the site during this test period and already has plans to add new features such as a photo printing service in conjunction with Shutterfly and the ability to share playlists and download music.

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